Falcons say 49ers' Kaepernick poses new challenge
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Michael Turner's trademark high-pitched laugh filled the Falcons' locker room.
Asked about San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Turner grinned Thursday and said “I'm glad I'm not on defense.”
Turner, the big running back, and the Falcons' offense want to hold the ball and limit Kaepernick's time on the field in Sunday's NFC championship game.
The Falcons have seen enough in Kaepernick's eight starts to respect the versatile quarterback with the long stride and strong right arm.
Kaepernick comes to Atlanta after running for 181 yards — an NFL record for a quarterback — with two touchdowns in last week's win over Green Bay. Kaepernick also threw for 263 yards with two touchdowns. He became only the third quarterback, after Otto Graham and Jay Cutler, to run and throw for at least two touchdowns in a postseason game.
It's little wonder the Falcons are impressed, even after facing such other dual-threat quarterbacks as Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson this season.
Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kaepernick is unique.
“I think he's just a different guy altogether,” Weatherspoon said. “He's a taller guy, obviously. He broke the record last week, so that makes him special and different. I think he has a lot more speed. Russell is more of a quick guy. Colin is a faster guy.”
Wilson and Griffin, who missed most of the second half of the Falcons' 24-17 victory over the Redskins on Oct. 7, are scramblers. Kaepernick looks more like a 200-meter sprinter with his unusually long stride.
“That's the thing,” Weatherspoon said. “You can tell he can run. Speed won't be a surprise to us. We've watched the tape. We'll be ready to go.”
The 49ers don't have to be told they'll bring an unusually gifted quarterback to the Georgia Dome. In only half of a season, Kaepernick has given the San Francisco offense a facelift.
“He's an incredible athlete,” 49ers running back LaMichael James said. “He's looking to throw the ball more than run the ball. But once he takes off, he's faster than a lot of running backs and linebackers.”
Kaepernick has avoided the big hits that have made it difficult for such other running quarterbacks as Griffin and Michael Vick to avoid injuries.
He said his strategy is “Run where they're not.”
“You want to run away from where the defensive players are,” Kaepernick said. “When they get close, get down.”
Falcons coach Mike Smith said he is preparing for the 49ers' “traditional offense that we're used to seeing” as well as the pistol formation with read-option plays that Kaepernick ran in college at Nevada.
Wilson found open room when he took off on long runs after first looking to pass. Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud said Kaepernick shows more determination to run.
“With Kaepernick, I think once he tucks the ball he's looking to run,” DeCoud said. “He's taking off to run where Russell, he had his head up looking downfield and wasn't really looking to cross the line of scrimmage. He was just trying to buy time for his guys to get open.”
Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson said the one obstacle Kaepernick can't dodge with his speed is inexperience. Sunday's game will be Kaepernick's first playoff game on the road.
“You've got to get in his mind and change the looks up on him,” Peterson said. “He's a great quarterback, doing a lot of good things for his team, but the common denominator is that he's still a young quarterback.
“He can't run from that.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: Cutler’s future with Bears not yet determined
- NFL notebook: Cowboys RB Murray breaks hand, has surgery
- NFL notebook: Bears bench QB Cutler, turn to Clausen
- NFL notebook: Raiders owner plans sweeping changes to fix franchise
- NFL notebook: Cowboys won’t rule out RB Murray